70 of 71 people found the following review helpful
A Western Painting,
This review is from: Shane [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Alan Ladd starred in one of the most spare and beautiful westerns ever captured on film in George Stevens' portrait of a lonely gunfighter and the bond he forms with a family of homesteaders under seige out west. Jack Schaefer's very good western novella was lofted to greatness by Ladd's quiet performance as the gunfighter Shane, who gets a glimpse of the life he would have preferred rather than the hand he was dealt.
A story and film which sounds simple, and is often described as such, is really anything but, its complexity hidden by its scope and the subtle manner in which it is told. Shane is the mythic figure, riding in on the horizon and staying to help a family fend off a rancher trying to drive the farmers off their land. It is a story of changing times and complex relationships.
Shane forms a bond with farmer Van Heflin and becomes his friend because of his decency and acceptance of Shane, even though Shane's gun and his readiness to draw at the slightest sound reveals a past and a way of life Shane would like to live down. Shane knows he is on the way out as the west changes and it is ironic that he chooses to help the family trying to build a town and a community, the very things that will be his demise.
Brandon De Wilde is excellent as the young boy who needs a larger than life hero to look up to and finds him in Shane. As he and Shane form a bond, an inevitable confrontation between a deadly gunfighter hired to get rid of the homesteaders will force him to put on his gun and live up to everything the young boy feels in his heart for Shane.
Jean Arthur gives a wonderful and often overlooked performance as the wife who loves her husband and son dearly, but can not deny the feelings she has for Shane. There is a point in the film where she tells her husband to just hold her and not ask any questions; everyone who has been watching knows why she does this. It is a platonic love for Shane she would never act on but it is still there.
Heflin is also excellent as a solid man trying to hold the other farmers together even as a deadly gunfighter in black, symbolic of the good verses evil of the story, kills one of their own. He is no fool and senses the feelings between his wife and Shane, but knows that neither would ever betray him; Arthur because she loves him and Shane because it is not the kind of man he is.
Shane's feelings for Arthur are not the threatening kind, but more a loneliness when he looks at her, as she represents everything he wanted but knows he will never have because he is a gunfighter. He tells Arthur that a gun is just a tool like an axe or a shovel, no better or worse than the man who carries it. We know Shane is the good man, and Jack Palance the bad man, quick on the draw and evil, but no match for the soft spoken but deadly Shane.
The way the inevitable gunfight comes about and the way this film ends continues the larger than life myth of the American gunfighter. There is a nice score from Victor Young and good support from Edgar Buchanan as a farmer and Ben Johnson as a rancher who changes his spots, won over by the kind of man Shane shows himself to be.
Shane is not only one of the great westerns, but one of the best films of any genre. It is an artistic portrait of a gunfighter and the changing landscape of the American west, as general stores and churches began to replace the lawlessness that had been settled by a fast and accurate draw for so many years.
If you do not own Shane, your film library is incomplete. Every serious film buff has a spot for this masterpiece on their shelf somewhere. Make one on yours.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 28 Aug 2011 16:21:07 BDT
Shane is one of very favourite movies. The casting of Ladd,Heflin,and the gorgeous Ms. Arthur,was inspirational.Having seen the film many times,this review is just perfect. If you don't own it,what's wrong with you?
Posted on 26 Jan 2013 13:46:23 GMT
I have seen this film a few times many years ago and in fact my middle name is given to me after my uncle who in turn was named after the late great Alan Ladd, due largely i think to his performance in this film. It is so powerful and in such an understated way that you will find it very difficult to find a comparison.
I will not try to compete with the review here which is definitive and one of the best i have read.
I am ashamed to say that despite my admiration for this film and the fond memories i have of watching it with my Grandmother, i do not own it.
A wrong I am about to put right, just as Shane himself would have done. Thanks starlighthotel for a wonderful review and the inspiration to buy this film.
Posted on 26 Mar 2013 02:28:28 GMT
Louise Generes says:
Thank you for such a wonderful review of this film!
I can't wait to see it now!
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